Clarity call over Dublin IRA 'amnesty'

Clarity call over Dublin IRA 'amnesty'

Victims’ campaigners are calling for the Irish government to make a public statement over claims the authorities turned a blind eye to IRA killers operating in the Republic for more than a decade.

It comes after the Irish Government privately denied there was an amnesty for those suspected of carrying out killings.Families and survivors of one the worst single atrocities of the Troubles are demanding a public statement about claims by former justice minister Michael McDowell that a blind eye was turned to fugitives.A government official has told Margaret Urwin, of Justice for Forgotten, which is campaigning for the truth about the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, that various attempts were made to deal with the on-the-runs issue during the peace process.In a letter, the Department of Justice civil servant said Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald was aware of Mr McDowell's remarks but said the Garda will pursue any evidence in relation to Troubles-related offences.The official said many attempts were made to strike a deal about fugitives but insisted there was no question of an amnesty being in place in the Republic.However, Ms Urwin is demanding a public statement from the Dublin government about the high-level claims."We are seeking definitive clarification about this," she said.The person who made these remarks is not just some ordinary member of the public. It's a former attorney general and a former minister for justice. This was a person who was right at the heart of government.Margaret UnwinAsked about the on-the-runs controversy in Northern Ireland and Britain, Mr McDowell said there was "a consensus" in the Republic dating back at least 14 years ago that the Garda would no longer be prosecuting historical cases.He said: "In fact what happened in the Republic was that there was just a decision by the guards to use their resources to prevent current crime and current offences and not to go back over the IRA's campaign of violence."Ms Urwin said Mr McDowell was at the heart of justice in the Republic - both as justice minister and attorney general, the state's chief legal advisor - for eight years."He's hardly likely to make these remarks unless there is some truth in them," she said."We also note the absence of any public rebuttal of his remarks by the current government or indeed by his former colleagues who served alongside him in government."Nobody has come out publicly and said this was never the case."We would like to see a public statement being made by the government about this."Ms Urwin has written again to the Irish Government asking if there was any unofficial arrangement with Garda chiefs about paramilitary fugitives as part of a deal to secure peace in Northern Ireland.DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson has also written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny seeking a meeting with victims' families about claims of an amnesty in the Republic.

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